Morecambe camp must prepare to play behind closed doors
Morecambe boss Derek Adams believes playing in front of empty stands is something they will have to deal with until supporters are allowed back inside grounds.
The Shrimps’ manager was one of those who had voiced his support for a start to the league season on September 12; an outcome announced last month.
Given the government’s plans to have fans back in stadiums no earlier than October, probably with reduced capacities, it will mean starting the season behind closed doors.
The decision hasn’t proved wholly popular with Shrewsbury Town having proposed using Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy games as test events in September and then starting the league campaign in October.
The unprecedented situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic means there isn’t an answer that would please everyone, with fixture release dates still up in the air for good measure.
The only thing that can be agreed on is those footballers who haven’t played since March will have to become used to playing without fans in the short term.
“We have pre-season games lined up but they will be behind closed doors,” Adams acknowledged.
“That will be strange for the players and the staff but, in terms of getting back to work and playing football matches, I think we’re all going to have to get used to it.
“One option is to have the League Cup starting before the beginning of the (league) season on September 5.
“They haven’t come out and clarified when it’s going to be but I presume it’s going to be before that first league game.”
Clubs normally return to pre-season after a couple of months away but, in Morecambe’s case, they went back after almost five months off after football’s suspension in mid-March and the eventual curtailment of their season.
Other leagues have returned to action in the interim with the hope that clubs can learn from how they have dealt with the situation.
Germany’s Bundesliga was the first major league to resume playing when its clubs started matches again in May after a two-month break.
It was reported that the first weekend of matches triggered an injury rate more than three times higher per game compared with those matches played pre-lockdown.
Adams said: “We have six weeks between starting training and the first game to get players to a good fitness level.
“There’s always a risk (of injury) in pre-season training but the players have been given their programmes over a period of time and we’re hopeful they have stuck to them.
“They have been on furlough so we couldn’t keep up to date with their progress but every player wants to come back in the best shape they can.”